The Kroměříž district  Czechoslovak RAF airmen remembered

Uctění památky československých příslušníků RAF
z kroměřížského okresu.



The symbolic bouquet in national colours is the form of saying thank you by the Free Czechoslovak Associates Ltd. – Sdružení letců svobodného Československa s.r.o., which was formed in the United Kingdom. All three Directors – Barry Kudláček, Tom Doležal and Dagmar Šišková-Johnson, are descendants of Czechoslovak RAF airmen. This year, they initiated a project in the Czech Republic to honour the memorial sites of all airmen mentioned in the publication “Men in RAF uniforms from the Kroměříž district for the freedom of Czechoslovakia 1939-1945”.

Symbolická kytička v národních barvách je forma poděkování sdružení Free Czechoslovak Air Force – Svobodné československé letectvo, založené v Anglii. Jeho výkonnými členy jsou tři potomci československých „rafáků“ – Barry Kudláček, Tom Doležal a Dagmar Šišková-Johnson. V letošním roce vznikl z jejich podnětu projekt pro Českou republiku, uctít touto formou památná místa mužů uvedených v publikaci „Muži v uniformách RAF z okresu Kroměříž za svobodu Československa 1939-1945.“


The project was launched on 31 March 2022, when Dagmar Šišková-Johnson during a visit to her family in Moravia, laid the first bouquet at the memorial plaque of her father, Alois Šiška in his native Lutopecny. The mayor of the village Petr Navrátil was also present.

Projekt byl zahájen 31. března 2022. Za účasti Dagmar Šiškové-Johnson při návštěvě rodiny na Moravě byla položena první kytička u pamětní desky jejího otce genmjr. Aloise Šišky v rodných Lutopecnách. Přítomen byl starosta obce Petr Navrátil.


On the same day, another FCAFA bouquet was also placed at the memorial plaque to five Kroměříž-born airmen at Hanácké square in Kroměříž. They are: Zdeněk Bachurek, Svatopluk Bachurek, Miloslav Eugen Mikulík, ladislav Ševčík and Karel Valach. Zdenka Trávníčková, niece of Alois Šiška and author of the aformentioned publication, was instrumental in creation of both plaques.

Téhož dne byla položena kytička též k pamětní desce pěti kroměřížských rodáků na Hanáckém náměstí v Kroměříži. Na desce jsou uvedena jména: Zdeněk Bachurek, Svatopluk Bachurek, Miloslav Eugen Mikulík, Ladislav Ševčík a Karel Valach. Obě pamětní desky vznikly z podnětu Zdeňky Trávníčkové, neteře gen. Šišky, autorky zmíněné publikace.


The next commemorative act followed on April 3, 2022 at the memorial plaque in Holešov, which is mounted on the primary school building. Dagmar Šišková-Johnson placed the bouquet there, together with Jan Dúbravčík, a former military pilot, who initiated the creation of this plaque. He also published several aviation-related publications himself. The plaque bears ther following names: Karel Bednařík, Jan Hein (Haina), Josef Hrůza, Jaroslav Chmelík, František Krutil, Robert Osenský (Ossendorf) a Karel Valášek.

Další pietní akt následoval dne 3. dubna 2022 u pamětní desky v Holešově, na budově ZŠ za účasti Dagmar Šiškové-Johnson a Ing. Jana Dúbravčíka, bývalého vojenského pilota, který vznik pamětní desky inicioval. Sám vydal též několik publikací s leteckou tematikou. Na desce uvedena jména příslušníků RAF: Karel Bednařík, Jan Hein(Haina), Josef Hrůza, Jaroslav Chmelík, František Krutil, Robert Osenský (Ossendorf) a Karel Valášek.


The two locations near Bystřice pod Hostýnem were next on the list. First in the village of Bílavsko, where the bouquet was placed by the urn containing the ashes of František Josef Sadil (photo no. 5), followed by visit to Chvalčov, where, at presence of Mr Chládek, the council representative, the bouquet was placed at the war memorial on which are the names of the two fighter pilots, Evžen Halamásek and Rupert Krupica.

Téhož dne byla v oblasti Bystřice pod Hostýnem položena kytička na hrob v obci Bílavsko, k urně s ostatky Františka, Josefa Sadila (foto č. 5) Následně v obci Chvalčov byla kytička položena k pomníku, na kterém jsou uvedena jména dvou stíhacích pilotů – Evžena Halamáska a Ruperta Krupici. Přítomen byl zástupce obce Dipl.Ing. Chládek.


The last FCAFA-related stop during Dagmar Šišková-Johnson’s Spring visit took place on 7 April 2022 at the RAF memorial at Olšany cemetery in Prague. Together with her cousin Zdenka Trávníšková they laid the bouquet at this memorial, which is also the final resting place of the ashes of Zdeněk Bachurek, Alois Šiška, Lubomír Úlehla and Petr Uruba as all those were born in Kroměříž region.

Poslední zastávkou Dagmar Šiškové-Johnson v souvislosti s FCAFA projektem byl 7. dubna 2022 památník letců RAF v Praze na Olšanech. Společně se sestřenicí Zdeňkou Trávníčkovou položily kytičku na památník, který je rovněž místem pro uložení urny Bachurka Zdeňka, Aloise Šišky, Úlehly Lubomíra, Petra Uruby, kteří mají své kořeny na Kroměřížsku.


The project continued in May with a visit to Prostějov and Přerov. On May 4, 2022, a bouquet was laid by Zdeňka Trávníčková at the memorial to the Czechoslovak RAF airmen in Prostějov, on which Svatopluk Bachurek, Vilém Michálek and Karel Valach are remembered. Also present was Ladislav Staněk from the Prostějov branch of the Airmen’s Union.

Projekt pokračoval v měsíci květnu návštěvou Prostějova a Přerova. Dne 4. května 2022 byla položena kytička Zdeňkou Trávníčkovou k památníku čs. letcům v Prostějově, na němž jsou vzpomenuti Bachurek Svatopluk, Michálek Vilém, Valach Karel. Přítomen byl Staněk Ladislav za pobočku Svazu letců Prostějov.


On 7 May 2022 a bouquet was placed at the joint memorial to the fallen of the second world war and the RAF airmen, namely Jaroslav Lančík and Rudolf Němeček at the presence of Miroslav Smětava, former pilot and member of Přerov Airmen‘s Union branch.

Následně 7. května 2022 byla položena kytička v Přerově k pomníku obětem 2. světové války a letců RAF. Na pomníku jsou uvedena jména Lančíka Jaroslava a Němečka Rudolfa. Přítomen byl zástupce pobočky Svazu letců v Přerově, Smětava Miroslav, bývalý pilot.


Another bouquet was laid at the memorial plaque of Gen. Karel Janoušek, who was born in Přerov.

Kytička byla položena též k pamětní desce gen. K. Janouška, rodáka z Přerova.


On 8 May 2022 another bouquet was placed at the memorial to the fallen of both world wars at Halenkov, nr. Vsetín, which bears the name of František Politzer, whose family came from the kroměříž region. Present were representatives of the local council, led by the Mayor Radek Chromčák.

Dne 8. května 2022 byl vzpomenut u pomníku padlých obou válek v Halenkově na Vsetínsku Politzer František, jehož rodina pochází z Kroměřížska. Přítomni zástupci obce se starostou Ing. Chromčákem Radkem.


On the same day the FCAFA bouquet was also laid during the unveiling ceremony of the plaque to the Halenkov-born Emil Mikulenka.

Téhož dne byla odhalena v Halenkově pamětní deska rodákovi plk. Emilu Mikulenkovi. Při slavnostním aktu byla u desky položena také kytička FCAFA.


The next stop was the cemetery at Bystřice pod Hostýnem on 11 May 2022, when bouquets were laid at the graves of Vojtěch Bublík.

Další pokračování projektu proběhlo 11. května 2022. Na hřbitově v Bystřici pod Hostýnem položena kytička na hrob Bubílka Vojtěcha.

and that of Felix Zbořil.

a další kytička na hrob se jménem Zbořila Felixe. Přítomen byl jeho synovec Mgr. Zbořil Ivan.

On the same day Zdenka Trávníčková also laid a bouquet at the memorial of Bohumil Horák at the village of Komárno. Also present was the Mayor Milan Šindelák.

Téhož dne v obci Komárno položila Zdeňka Trávníčková kytičku na pomník se jménem Horáka Bohumila. Přítomen starosta obce Šindelek Milan.



The project resumed in the Autumn, during the second Moravian visit of Dagmar Šišková-Johnson and her husband Ian, also a FCAFA volunteer. On 11 September 2022 she laid a bouquet at Politzer family grave at Střílky cemetery, which also contains the remains of two Politzer brothers, Maxmilián and František. Also present was Jana Drápalová, a teacher who wrote a piece about the fate of the two brothers in the village newsletter.

Projekt pak pokračoval až v podzimních měsících při další návštěvě Dagmar Šiškové-Johnson a manžela Iana, též dobrovolníka FCAFA na Moravě byla položena dne 11.září 2022 kytička na rodinný hrob s ostatky bratrů Maxmiliána a Františka Politerových na hřbitově ve Střílkách. Přítomna byla paní učitelka Mgr.Jana Drápalová, která o osudech obou bratrů zveřejnila řadu informací v místním zpravodaji obce.


On the same day the group visited Svoboda family grave at Bohuslavice u Kyjova, on which is remembered also Pavel Svoboda, one of the three survivors of KX-B bomber crew. A visit to Pavel’s relatives followed.

Téhož dne byla položena kytička na rodinný hrob v Bohuslavicích u Kyjova, kde je vzpomenut Pavel Svoboda, jeden ze tří přeživších havárie bombardéru KX-B. Pietní vzpomínka byla završena návštěvou příbuzných.


A visit the the memorial to Alois Šiška at Kvítkovice near Otrokovice followed on 12 September 2022. This is where he lived during his work at Baťa factory before his escape to war.

Dne 12. září 2022 navštíven pomník gen. Aloise Šišky v Kvítkovicích u Otrokovic, kde pracoval u firmy Baťa před útěkem do zahraničního odboje.


Rusava village, the birthplace of Petr Uruba, was the next stop on 17 October 2022. The bouquet was placed at his memorial plaque at presence of the Mayor Bohumil Škarpich.

Další podzimní zastavení dne 17. října 2022 s položením kytičky směřovalo do obce Rusava. Rodná obec připomíná na pamětní desce Petra Uruby. Přítomen byl za obec starosta pan Škarpich.


The last project visit took place on 25 October 2022 in Nětčice, where amongst the names on the village memorial is also Josef Blaha.

Poslední zastavení v rámci projektu se uskutečnilo dne 25. října 2022 v Nětčicích, kde je na pomníku uvedeno jméno stíhače 313 čs. perutě Josefa Blahy.

During the project visits were made to 16 different locations and bouquets were laid. These were memorials, graves and plaque which bear the names of the Czechoslovak RAF Airmen, born in the district of Kroměříž, who served in the RAF. Lest we forget.

V průběhu projektu bylo navštíveno 16 míst, kde byla položena symbolická kytička. Jednalo se o pomníky, hroby, pamětní desky, které připomínají jména čs. příslušníků RAF narozených v okrese Kroměříž. Čest jejich památce.



As part of this project two more bouquets were laid in Holland. Dagmar Šišková-Johnson laid the bouquet at the KX-B crew memorial in Petten on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its unveiling,

V rámci projektu byly také položeny 2 FCAFA kytičky v Nizozemsku. Dagmar Šišková-Johnson položila kytičku u památníku pasádky KX-B v Pettenu u přílžitosti 10. výročí odhalení,


as well as at the grave of Josef Mohr in the CWGC section of the municipal cemetery in Bern am Zee.

a také u hrobu Josefa Mohra v sekci CWGC na městkém hřbitově v Bergen am Zee.

Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

London Remembrance 12.11.2022


As in previous years Tomáš Sláma and his Czech military veterans delegation, had flown to London to participate in the Remembrance Sunday Parade at The Cenotaph, London. Whilst in London they took the opportunity to join Free Czechoslovak Air Force Associates ltd (FCAFA) volunteers to remember the Czechoslovak airmen who had served in the RAF during WW2.

Tak jako v předcházejících letech přiletěl Tomáš Sláma se svou delegací českých vojenských veteránů do Londýna, aby se zůčastnili slavnostního pochodu u příležitosti Dne veteránů u londýnského Cenotaph. Využili rovněž této příležitosti a společně s dobrovolníky Free Czechoslovak Air Force Associates ltd (FCAFA) uctili památku československých letců, kteří sloužili v RAF v průběhu 2.sv.v.

First stop was at the Bomber Command Memorial, at Green Park, London, where Czech Air Force veterans Robert Hejtmánek and Tomáš Hejtmánek laid a wreath on behalf of FCAFA in remembrance of the 112 Czechoslovak airmen, from 311 (Czechoslovak) squadron who lost their lives whilst serving in RAF Bomber Command in WW2.

První zastávka byla u památníku bombardovacého letectva, v londýnském Green Park, kde veteráni českého letectva Robert Hejtmánek aTomáš Hejtmánek položili za FCAFA věnec k uctění památky 112 československých letců z (československé) 311. peruti, kteří zahynuli v období služby v rámci bombardovacího svazu RAF za 2. sv.v.


Final stop was at the London Battle of Britain Memorial, at Westminster Embankment. Again here, Czech Air Force veterans Robert Hejtmánek and Tomáš Hejtmánek laid a wreath on behalf of FCAFA to commemorate the 88 Czechoslovak pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain during the Autumn of 1940, eight of whom lost their lives during that battle.

Druhou zatávkou byl památník Bitvy o Británii, na Westminster Embankment. Také zde veteráni českého letectva Robert Hejtmánek a Tomáš Hejtmánek položili věnec ve jménu FCAFA k uctění památky 88 československých pilotů, kteří bojovali a zahynuli v Bitvě o Británii na podzim 1940.

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To help support this remembrance project please consider making a donation which will greatly assist us in this work.

Pokud byste chtěli podpořit tuto vzpomínkovou akci finančně, budeme vám velmi vděční.

Your donation can be made here.

Svůj dar můžete uskutečnit zde.

_______________________________________________________________


Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Battle of Britain, Memorial, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Brookwood Remembrance – 14.11.2022


The FCAFA candle event at Brookwood cemetery to remember the Czechoslovak men and women who served in the RAF or British Army was held a little earlier this year. As in previous years Tomáš Sláma and his Czech military veterans delegation had come to London to participate in the Remembrance Sunday Parade at The Cenotaph, London.

FCAFA obřad zapálení svíček na hřbitově v Brookwoodu k uctění památky československých mužů a žen, kteří sloužili jak v RAF, tak v britské armádě, proběhl letos už dříve. Tak jako v minulých letech přijela letos do Londýna delegace českých válečných veteránů v čele s Tomášem Slámou, aby se zůčastnili nedělního Vzpomínkového pochodu u památníku Cenotaph v Londýně.

After a Remembrance Day reception held at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, London, a team of volunteers from the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Associates ltd and the Veterans Česká Republika delegation travelled down to Brookwood. There remembrance candles were placed at the 50 graves by the Czechoslovak Memorial and the three graves opposite the RAF building in the CWGC cemetery at Brookwood. Then to the civilian section of Brookwood to place candles at the graves in the Czechoslovak ex-Servicmen’s plot and also the communal grave for the passengers of the tragic Liberator crash of 5 October 1945.

Po následné recepci na Českém zastupitelství v Londýně, tým dobrovolníků Asociace letců svobodného Československa s.r.o. a delegace veteránů z České republiky odjeli do Brookwoodu. Společně umístili vzpomínkové svíčky k 50 hrobům u československého památníku a ke třem hrobům naproti budově RAF na hřbitově Komise pro válečné hroby (CWGC) v Brookwoodu. Odtud pokračovali do civilní části hřbitova v Brookwoodu, kde umístili svíčky na hroby v sekci bývalých československých příslušníků a rovněž na společném hrobě cestujícím tragické nehody Liberátoru 5. října 1945.



Our thanks to the Veterans Česká Republika delegation of Tomáš Sláma, Peter Polednik, Jiří Zbožínko, Jiří Pacul, Robert and Tomáš Hejtmánek, Rostislav Laurenc, Vojta Nožička, Miloš Polášek, Josef Najman, František and Pavel Vlachov, Ivan Hipšr, Stanislav Vlček, Martin Hrebeň, Standa Hrdlička, Josef Křivánek, Martina Horová, Petr Velan and Miroslava Slámová, who were able to assist with this event during their four day UK visit for the Remembrance Sunday Parade in London.

Děkujeme delegaci veteránů České republiky – Tomáši Slámovi, Peteru Poledníkovi, Jiřímu Zbožínkovi, Jiřímu Paculovi, Romanovi a Tomáši Hejtmánkovým, Rostislavu Laurencovi, Vojtovi Nožičkovi, Miloši Poláškovi, Josefu Najmanovi, Františku a Pavlovi Vlachovovým, Ivanu Hipšrovi, Stanislavu Vlčkovi, Martinu Hrebeňovi, Standovi Hrdličkovi, Josefu Křivánkovi, Martině Horové, Petru Velanovi a Miroslavě Slámové, kteří se v průběhu svého čtyřdenního pobytu v Británii zúčastnili naší slavnosti a také slavnostní nedělní přehlídky v Londýně.


Petr Velan had kindly brought his bagpipes, from the Czech Republic, with him specially for this event and played a couple of Scottish laments by the Czechoslovak Memorial in remembrance of the fallen 50 Czechoslovaks of WW2 who are interred there.

Petr Velan speciálně pro tuto příležitost přivezl z České republiky své dudy a ochotně zahrál u československého pomníku k připomínce padesáti padlých Čechoslováků, kteří jsou zde pohřbeni.

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Our special thanks to Kevan, without whose help, this remembrance would not have been possible.

Zvláštní poděkování patří Kevanovi, bez jehož pomoci by se tato vzpomínka konat nemohla.


_______________________________________________________________

To help support this remembrance project please consider making a donation which will greatly assist us in this work.

Pokud byste chtěli podpořit tuto vzpomínkovou akci finančně, budeme vám velmi vděční.

Your donation can be made here.

Svůj dar můžete uskutečnit zde.

_______________________________________________________________


Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Ceremony, Not Forgotton, Other RAF Squadrons | Leave a comment

Remembrance 11.11.2022.



Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Not Forgotton | 3 Comments

Pavel Tofel – 12.11.2022 – Janovice


Posted in 311 Sqd, Ceremony, Forthcoming Events | 1 Comment

Emil Fechtner – † 29.10.40.


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An biography for him here

Jeho českou a anglickou biografii najdete zde

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Posted in 310 Sqd, Anniversary, Battle of Britain, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Vilem Goth – † 25.10.40.


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An biography for him here

Jeho českou a anglickou biografii najdete zde

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Posted in Anniversary, Battle of Britain, Not Forgotton, Other RAF Squadrons | Leave a comment

Antonin Zavoral – One of the Few





Antonín Zavoral



One of the Few



…………….* 14.01.1917, Třebechovice pod Orebem.

…………….† 31.10.1941, English Channel off Dunkirk.





Pre WW2:

Antonín Zavoral was born on 14 January 1917 at Třebechovice pod Orebem, in the Hradec Králové region of Czechoslovakia, about 70 miles East of Prague. There he completed his primary and secondary education.

In October 1935, now aged 18, he was accepted for his compulsory military service as a cadet at the Military Aviation Academy at Prostějov. He was selected for pilot training and successfully completed the course. In April 1937, Antonín decided to remain in the military as a career and was posted to the 4th Air Regiment at Hradec Králové, serving as a fighter pilot in their 41st Squadron. From January 1938 the squadron was redeployed to Prague-Kbely airbase and equipped with Avia B-534 bi-plane fighter aircraft.

At the beginning of 1938, whilst attempting an emergency landing in a Avia B-534, he crashed and sustained injuries resulting in him being discharged from military service in October 1938 for health reasons. By this time, he had achieved 280 flying hours.

German Occupation:

Following the Munich Agreement of 30 September 1938, when the Germans were ceded the Sudeten regions of Czechoslovakia, the Germans completed their occupation of the country on 15 March 1939. In a meeting the day before, Hitler told Dr Emil Hácha, the Czechoslovak president, that German troops would commence occupation of Czechoslovakia at 06:00 that morning and that he had two options; either surrender Czechoslovakia to Germany, in which case the “entry of German troops would take place in a tolerable manner” and “permit Czechoslovakia a generous life of her own, autonomy and a degree of national freedom”, or if he refused “resistance would be broken by force of arms, using all means”.

Under such pressure, Emil Hacha, had ordered all Czechoslovak military to stand down, remain in their barracks and not resist the entry of German military when they crossed over the border into Czechoslovakia, on 15 March, to complete their occupation. The Germans quickly disbanded the Czechoslovak military and all personnel were dismissed with Germanisation of Bohemia and Moravia beginning immediately with the Slovakia region being given ‘independence’ but it was, in reality just a puppet state of Nazi Germany.

For many of the military personnel and patriotic Czech citizens, this was a degrading period. Many wanted to redress this shame and humiliation and sought the liberation of their homeland. Just four days later, on 19 March 1939, former Senior officers of the now-disbanded Czechoslovak military started to form an underground army, known as Obrana Národa [Defence of the Nation]. Obrana Národa also worked in co-operation with Svaz Letců, the Airman Association of the Czechoslovak Republic. One of their objectives was to assist as many airmen and soldiers as possible to get to neighbouring Poland where they could be formed into military units to fight for the liberation of their homeland. These two organisations provided money, courier and other assistance to enable airmen to escape to Poland. Usually, this was by crossing the border from Czechoslovakia’s Ostrava region which was adjacent to the Polish border.

German occupation of Czechoslovakia, 15 March 1939.

To Poland:

Antonín was one of those who decided to escape and enlist in one of those units. He covertly crossed over the border to Poland, then travelled to Kraków, where he reported for duty at the Czechoslovak Consulate.

Czechoslovak escapees reporting for duty at the Czechoslovak Consulate, Kraków, Summer 1939.

However, there, like all previous escapees from Czechoslovakia, Antonín was to find out that there was no enthusiasm from the Polish authorities to have Czechoslovak military units assembled on their territory they had no wish to provoke neighbouring Nazi Germany. This Polish attitude caused some of the Czechoslovak escapees to become discontented and disillusioned, with some considering returning to their homeland. Fortunately, patriotic speeches by General Ludvík Svoboda, a Legionnaire veteran from WW1 and Senator Vojtěch Beneš, brother of former Czechoslovak President Eduard Beneš, now exiled in in Britain, averted this return.

Instead, negotiations between the Czechoslovak Consulate, Kraków, his counter-part in Paris and the French authorities resulted in the offer that the Czechoslovak escapees would be allowed to travel to France. However as French law did not permit foreign military units to be based on its soil in peacetime, the Czechoslovaks would be required to enlist in the French Foreign Legion for a period of five years but with the promise that if war were declared the Czechoslovaks would be released from their French Foreign Legion service and would join French military units. The alternative was that Czechoslovaks who would not accept these terms would be returned by the Polish authorities to Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and face German retribution for escaping – usually imprisonment or execution with further reprisals to their families.

During this interim period, Antonín and the other Czechoslovak escapees were billeted at Malý Bronowice, a former Polish army camp on the outskirts of Kraków, whilst arrangements were made for their transportation, by sea, to France. Shortly after, with other he went by train to Gydnia on the Polish Baltic coast, where they boarded a ship which took them to France.

France:

On arrival in France the Czechoslovak escapees were taken by train to the French Foreign Legion’s recruitment centre at Nanterre, near Paris, for medical checks and acceptance into the Legion and then transfer to their training base at Sidi-bel-Abbès, Algeria. Fortunately for Antonín, war was declared before he could be sent to Algeria and instead he was transferred to the l’Armée d’Air at their Paris recruitment centre. On 6 October 1939 he was posted, at the rank of Caporal, to the Centre d’Instruction de Chasse (CIC) at Chartres airbase, for re-training on French fighter aircraft and to learn rudimentary French.

The Germans commenced their Blitzkreig invasion on Western Europe on 10 May 1940, by invading Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg and then continuing Westwards into France. By this time, Antonín had completed 29.45 flying hours in training at Chartres, but there was now an urgent need for operational fighter pilots to defend France. Because of the rapid advance of the Germans during the Battle of France, he was not posted to an operational unit in l’Arme d’Air. Instead, on 16 May with nine other Czechoslovak pilots, Antonín was assigned, at the rank of Sergent, to Patrouille Défense Aérienne du Territoire (DAT) to defend Chartres airbase against Luftwaffe attack. There they joined fellow Czechoslovak Stanislav Zimprich and on 20 May they were joined by another four Czechoslovak airmen. The unit was equipped with Morane-Saulnier MS-406c fighter aircraft.

Morane-Saulnier MS-406c fighter aircraft.

During the Battle of France Antonín achieved combat success:

Date:

Time:

Type Flown:

Action:

11.06.40

11:10

MS-406

Do 17 victory near Ablis, North-East of Chartres

On 13 June 1940, with the French capitulation imminent, Antonín and the other Czechoslovak airmen were released from their l’Armée de l’Air service so that they could be evacuated to England from where they could carry on the fight against Nazi Germany. With other Czechoslovak airmen, he reached Bordeaux where they boarded the ‘Kmicic’ formerly the ‘Robour III’ and sailed on 19 June to Falmouth, England. They arrived on 23 June.

RAF:

After arriving at Falmouth, the Czechoslovak airmen were transferred to RAF Innsworth, Gloucestershire, for security vetting. Antonín was accepted into the RAF Volunteer Reserve, at the rank of Sgt and, at the beginning of July, transferred to the Czechoslovak airmen’s Depot at Cosford, near Wolverhampton. From there, after basic training and English lessons, he was posted to 6 OTU at Sutton Bridge, near Peterborough, on 28 September for training on Hurricane fighter aircraft.

Antonín’s retraining there was completed on 14 October 1940 and with fellow Czechoslovaks P/O’s Evžen Čížek, František Běhal and Sgt Jan Štefan from 6 OTU, he was posted to 1 Sqn stationed at RAF Wittering, near Peterborough. The squadron, after being heavily engaged in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, had, on 9 September, been redeployed from their 11 Group base at RAF Northolt, to RAF Wittering, part of 12 Group. The squadron was now officially a ‘C’ type unit, which meant that while they were being rested, and retaining a few experienced pilots, was given an influx of new pilots to bring up to operational standard and then had to pass them onto them to operational squadrons in the battle area.

Antonín made his first flight with 1 Sqn on 15 October, a non-operational flight in Hurricane L1731 for local reconnaissance, taking-off at 15:30, returning to base at 16:25. By 31 October 1940, the recognised final day of the Battle of Britain, he was to make a further 18 flights, but only two were operational. The first was on 27 October, a scramble and patrol, in Hurricane P3042, taking-off at 14:10 and returning at 14:30 with no enemy aircraft encountered. The second was later that day, also in P3042, taking-off at 15:50 and returning at 17:00, again without any sightings of Luftwaffe aircraft.

On 15 December 1940, 1 Sqn was redeployed back into 11 Group’s Order of Battle and stationed at Northolt before moving to Kenley, near Croydon, on 5 January 1941. Their role here was primarily to carry out defensive patrols over South-East England as well as protecting Allied shipping in the English Channel. However, RAF Fighter Command was now also starting to take the offensive in the aerial war and began ‘Rhubarb’ patrols over Northern France. These patrols were usually undertaken by just two fighters when there was low cloud so that they could escape into cloud in the event of their being attacked. The purpose of these ‘Rhubarb’ patrols was to seek targets of opportunity over Northern France and attack them, hopefully Luftwaffe fighters trying to defend those targets could be engaged into combat. 1 Sqn was one of the RAF squadrons who engaged in those patrols and in which Antonín participated.

With 1 Sqn, Wittering, October 1940.

On 8 April 1941, Antonín was posted to 312 (Czechoslovak) Sqn, who were deployed at RAF Valley, near Anglesey, in North Wales and equipped with Hurricane Mk I’s. Here their role was the defence of Merseyside and the Irish Sea from enemy air and sea activity.

Antonín was assigned to the squadron’s ‘A’ Flight and two days later made his first operational patrol, with 312 Sqn, in Hurricane Mk I P3888. It was a patrol at 5,000 feet led by P/O František Peřína, taking-off at 16:35 and returning at 18:10.

With 312 Sqn.

The squadron was redeployed to Jurby on the Isle of Man on 25 April 1941. There, on 11 May 1941, four Hurricanes took-off at 08:15 for a formation training flight to Speke and back. The formation was led by P/O Ivo Tonder and Antonín was flying Hurricane Mk I, V7063. On the return flight the visibility was poor and Antonín became disorientated after becoming separated from the rest of the formation. He made a ‘belly’ landing near Baymans Lane Ferry, Banks, and was uninjured in the accident. However, a RAF investigation of the accident established that the primary cause of the accident was the pilot’s separation from his Section Leader and that he had neglected to follow instructions for conduct when lost, and in bad visibility. This finding concluded with the recommendation that Antonín should be reprimanded for his conduct in this incident.

RAF.

Antonín was posted to 607 Sqn, on 13 October 1941, who were now deployed at Manston, Kent. They were equipped with Hurricane Mk IIb’s which were used in a Hurri-bomber role and undertook anti-shipping operations and cross-channel fighter sweeps.

On 31 October 1941, 8 Hurricanes from 607 Sqn took-off at 16:05 to attack about 50 barges reported in the canal East of Bourbourville, with Antonin flying Hurricane IIB, BE403. They made rendezvous with 4 Hurricanes from 615 over base with two Spitfire squadrons from the Kenley Wing. The formation flew to France at sea level, with 607 Sqn leading, followed by 615 Sqn with the Spitfires behind. Then at 16:30, The French coast was sighted East of Plage de Gravelines and the formation flew East to a point just West of Dunkirk where a sharp right hand turn over the coast was made. Intense flak opened up from Grande Fort Phillipe – badly splitting up the formation. Antonin’s Hurricane was seen to go down with black smoke streaming from it, crashing into the English Channel off Dunkirk. His body was never recovered.

Sgt Antonín Zavoral was 24 years old and is commemorated on panel 55 at the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.

Medals:

British :

1939 – 45 Star with Battle of Britain clasp

Air Crew Europe Star

Defence Medal

War Medal

Czechoslovakia :

Válečný kříž 1939

Za chrabrost and bar

Za zásluhy I.stupně

Pamětní medaile se štítky F–VB

Remembered:

Czech Republic :

Prague – Dejvice:

He is named on the Memorial for the fallen Czechoslovak airmen of 1939-1945, at Dejvice, Prague 6.

Prague – Klárov:

In November 2017, his name, along with the names of 2507 other Czechoslovak men and women who had served in the RAF during WW2, was unveiled at the Winged Lion Monument at Klárov, Prague.

He is also remembered in the Remembrance book at St Vitus Cathedral, Prague.

He is remembered on the Memorial Plaque at the Vojenský Ústřední Archiv, Prague.

Týniště nad Orlicí:

In Týniště nad Orlicí, where he grew up, He is named on a memorial plaque for the fallen Czechoslovak RAF airmen from that District.

Great Britain :

He is commemorated, along with the other 2938 Battle of Britain aircrew, on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall at the National Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent:


He is also commemorated on the London Battle of Britain Memorial:

He is remembered on the Memorial Plaque at Bohemia House, formerly the Czech Club, London.

Posted in 312 Sqd, Battle of Britain, Biography, Other RAF Squadrons | 1 Comment

Josef Kominek – One of the Few





Josef Komínek



One of the Few



…………….* 31.10.1913, Prague.

…………….† 08.06.1941, Girton, UK.





Pre WW2:

Josef Komínek was born on 31 October 1913, the son of Josef and Marie Komínek, in Prague, which at that time was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After completing his 5 years at Primary and 4 years of Secondary education, he was accepted for a training course in electro-mechanical engineering.

On reaching 18, he was required to do his compulsory military service, and on 1 October 1932 enlisted in the Czechoslovak Air Force and was sent to their Military Aviation Academy at Prostějov as a cadet for his basic military training. There he was selected for pilot training which he successfully completed, and was posted to the 4th Air Regiment.

The threatening overtures by neighbouring Nazi Germany regarding the Sudeten regions – the German speaking areas – of Czechoslovakia caused the Czechoslovak Government to declare a mobilisation on 23 September 1938. Following this threat, Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler and Mussolini met in Munich. The outcome of this was the Munich Agreement of 30 September 1938 wherein the Sudeten regions were ceded to Germany. Eduard Beneš, the Czechoslovak President, was not invited to participate in the discussion concerning the future of his country. He was merely told by Chamberlain and Daladier to either accept the agreement or Czechoslovakia would have to defend itself without any support from Britain and France, despite there being a tri-lateral defence agreement between the three countries.

An unfortunate consequence of the Munich Agreement was that other regions of Czechoslovakia were now also claimed by its neighbours; Poland occupied the Český Těšín region in the east, whilst Hungary occupied the southern regions of Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia.

Mobilisation, September 1938.

Despite Hitlers claims at that time of not wishing any further territory from Czechoslovakia, by March 1939 Nazi Germany took a different stance. Under pressure from Hitler and Mussolini with the threat of an immediate and destructive invasion, and an absence of any support from its Alliance Treaty partners of France and Great Britain, Emil Hácha, the Czechoslovak President ceded to their demands. In the early hours of 15 March 1939, President Hácha, ordered all Czechoslovak military units to stand down, remain in their barracks and not resist the occupation. By dawn that day, the Germans began their occupied of Czechoslovakia. Germanisation of Bohemia and Moravia began immediately; they were now the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren), while Slovakia in return for their allegiance to Nazi Germany, had become the ‘puppet’ independent state of Slovakia. Within a few days of their occupation, the Germans disbanded the Czechoslovak military and all personnel were dismissed.

Just four days later, on 19 March 1939, former Senior officers of the now-disbanded Czechoslovak military started to form an underground army, known as Obrana Národa [Defence of the Nation]. Obrana Národa also worked in co-operation with Svaz Letců, the Airman Association of the Czechoslovak Republic. One of their objectives was to assist as many airmen and soldiers as possible to get to neighbouring Poland where Ludvík Svoboda, a former distinguished Czechoslovak Legionnaire from WW1, was planning the formation of Czechoslovak military units to fight for the liberation of their homeland. These two organisations provided money, courier and other assistance to enable former military personnel to escape to Poland.

For the former military personnel and many patriotic Czech citizens, this was a degrading period. Many sought to redress this shame and humiliation and wanted to fight for the liberation of their homeland. Within Czechoslovakia, former military personnel and civilian patriots covertly started to arrange for former Air Force and Army personnel to be smuggled over the border into Poland to join these newly-formed Czechoslovak units. These two organisations provided money, courier and other assistance to enable these military personnel airmen to escape to Poland. Usually, this was by crossing the border from Czechoslovakia’s Ostrava region.

To Poland :

With the help of those two organisations, Josef successfully managed to covertly cross the border into Poland and reported to the Czechoslovak Consulate at Kraków.

Up to Summer 1939, once in Poland, the Czechoslovak escapers were to find that Poland was not permitting the formation of foreign military units on its territory. However Czechoslovak officials in Poland had been in negotiations with France, a country with which Czechoslovakia had an Alliance Treaty. Under French law, foreign military units could not be formed on its soil during peacetime. The Czechoslovak escapees, however, could be accepted into the French Foreign Legion, but with the agreement that should war be declared, they would be transferred to French military units. The Czechoslovaks would, however, have to enlist with the French Foreign Legion for a five-year term. The alternative was to be returned to occupied Czechoslovakia and face German retribution for escaping – usually imprisonment or execution with further retribution to their families.

But, by the Summer of 1939, the Polish Authorities were now realising that it was now only a matter of time before they would be attacked by Germany and so now escaped Czechoslovak military personnel were eagerly being sought to assist the Polish military.

Unlike the majority of their comrades, instead of travelling to France, some 93 Czechoslovak airmen, including Josef, elected to remain in Poland and join the Polish Air Force as ‘civilian’ instructors. Josef was accepted at the rank of sierżant (Sgt). The group were then transferred to Dęblin airbase, about 90km southwest of Warsaw, where the Polish Air Force had their Central Military Aviation Training Academy. Here, Josef and his colleagues re-trained on Polish PWS-26, RWD-8, RWD-14 and other aircraft, all of which were obsolete, when the airmen compared them to the aircraft that the Czechoslovak Air Force had been equipped with. Josef and his Czechoslovak colleagues were very surprised to find, that despite the now certainty of a German invasion, that at the airbase there were still no anti-aircraft machine guns or air-raid shelters in position.

The Germans invaded Poland on 1 September 1940 and early on the morning of the following day, the airbase was bombed by a Luftwaffe formation of Do 17 bombers, with Me 109 fighter escort. During the air-raid, Josef witnessed fellow Czechoslovak airmen Lieutenant’s Štefan Kurka, Zdeněk Rous and Ondřej Šandor being killed in the raid whilst he and others were wounded. When Poland fell, Josef and his fellow Czechoslovaks at Dęblin were evacuated with Polish military units to Romania and then onto France.

To France :

It is believed that he remained with Polish units in France but it is still unclear about his actual activities as many of the Polish and l’Armee d’Air records were lost during the Battle of France.

When the capitulation of France was imminent in mid June 1940, Josef had managed to reach Bordeaux, in South-West France. From there, on 19 June 1940, with Czechoslovak and Polish airmen, he was evacuated aboard the ‘Karanan’, a small 395 tonne Dutch cargo ship, for the voyage to Britain. They sailed on 19 June and arrived two days later at Falmouth, which was good timing as France capitulated on 22 June 1940.

RAF :

After arriving at Falmouth, the Czechoslovak airmen were transferred to RAF Innsworth, Gloucestershire for security vetting. Josef was accepted into the RAF Volunteer Reserve, at the rank of Sgt and transferred to the Czechoslovak airmen’s Depot at Cosford, near Wolverhampton. On 15 July, with other Czechoslovak pilots, he was posted to the newly formed 310 (Czechoslovak) Sqn which was based at Duxford, near Cambridge. They were equipped with Hurricane Mk I aircraft and jointly commanded by S/Ldr Alexander Hess, the first Czechoslovak to command an RAF squadron, and S/Ldr George D.M Blackwood.

Josef with fellow 310 Sqn pilots, Duxford, July 1940.

Josef, RAF, 310 Sqn.


After rapid conversion to Hurricanes and some basic English lessons, taught by Louis de Glehn, the squadron was declared operational on 17 August and participated in the Battle of Britain. Josef had completed his Hurricane conversion and was passed for duties as an operational pilot. He made his first operational flight in the Battle of Britain on 23 August. Flying Hurricane P8814. Flying as Green 1 and led Sgt Josef Hubířč and P/O Stanislav Zimprich of that section for a uneventful convoy patrol, taking-off at 15:45 and returning to Duxford at 17:35.

During the Battle of Britain, Josef made a further 42 operational flights totalling some 45 hrs 44 min. During this period he achieved combat success:

Date:

Time:

Type Flown:

Action:

03.09.40

10:45

Hurricane R4085 ‘A’

Do 17 probable near North Weald.

15.09.40

12:05

Hurricane V7304 ‘C’

Do 17z victory near Rotherfield

27.09.40

12:30

Hurricane P3889 ‘S’

Me 109e victory over the English Channel

The first came on 3 September 1940, his 9th operational flight of the Battle. That day the weather was fine with good visibility. 310 Sqn, led by F/Lt Jefferies were ordered to patrol the Hornchurch area at 20,000 ft. That day Josef was flying Hurricane R4085 and 310 Sqn had taken off at 09:25. On approaching the patrol area a large formation of Luftwaffe aircraft, numbering 150+ Do215 bombers and Me110 fighter escorts were seen making for North Weald airfield from the South East. The squadron thereupon climbed to 25,000 ft and attacked, in line astern out of the sun. The enemy aircraft remained at 20,000 ft but turned East after dropping their bombs on North Weald airfield. During that dog-fight Josef attacked and achieved a ‘probable’ victory. His combat report of that action is:

The first attack was carried out on Me.110 from above from the port behind and above Sgt Koukal. The enemy aircraft which he attacked crashed down. I broke away and attacked immediately a single Do.215 fom the starboard and below. I opened fire at 100 yds and ceased it at 50 yds. The enemy aircraft turned left and was diving towards the ground. As I had to continue the combat I could not follow it to the ground.

His next success was on 15 September, his 15th flight of the Battle. That day Josef was flying Hurricane V7304 as Blue 2 in 310 Sqn’s ‘B’ Flight in the Tunbridge Wells, Kent area, when at 12:00 they noticed a formation of between 20 to 30 Luftwaffe bombers flying at 15,000 feet. The Hurricanes attacked them and Josef achieved combat success. His combat report is:

I started an attack with the leader of the first Section on already broken up formation of E/A at 15,000 ft. For large number of our fighters I lost the leader of my Section. After the first attack I sighted a Do.215 trying to escape. When I carried out the attack on this aircraft, three Hurricanes joined me and the E/A tried to disappear in clouds. Above the clouds the Hurricanes broke away and I followed the E/A beneath the clouds and made three more attacks. After the third attack at about 200 yards some sheets started to fall off and smoke was pouring from the port engine. The crew dropped the bombs and baled out (3 men). The E/A crashed about 3 miles S.W. of Tunbridge Wells.

Josef’s third and final success of the Battle was on 27 September, it was his 25th operational flight. Eleven aircraft from 310 Sqn took-off from Duxford, at 11:55, to patrol the Thames Estuary at 20,000 along with 19 Sqn, 242 and 616 Sqns. At about 12:30 a Luftwaffe formation of 20 to 30 Me109’s were sighted between Canterbury and Dover. The order was given to attack and a general dog-fight ensued, during which Josef shot down an Me 109 and saw it dive vertically into the English Channel some 5 miles South West of Dover. Josef landed safely back at Duxford 12:45.

After the Battle of Britain, 310 Sqn remained stationed at Duxford, carrying out numerous uneventful patrols either over South-East England or convey escorts for Allied shipping in the English Channel.

On 2 November 1940, 9 Hurricanes from 310 Sqn took-off from Duxford at 08:15 to patrol Dover at 20,000 feet. Josef was flying Blue 2 in Hurricane Mk I L1842. It was an uneventful patrol for the squadron, but near Eastchurch, Kent Josef’s aircraft had an engine failure causing it to catch fire. His altitude was 10,000 feet and he bailed-out, landing safely at Eastchurch, his Hurricane crashed on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

Last Flight:

Josef was killed on 8 June 1941 during a test flight near Cambridge. He had taken-off in Hurricane Mk IIa Z2562 to undertake radio tests prior to using the aircraft operationally. Cloud level was low that evening and so limited visibility. At 21:45, his Hurricane appeared to stall and spin into the ground whilst undertaking a steep turn, whilst flying low near Coes Farm near Girton, Cambridge.

Josef with fellow 310 Sqn pilots, Duxford, September 1940.

Sgt Josef Komínek was 27 years old. Initially he was buried at Royston and, post WW2, re-interred at grave 28. Section E. 2 at the Czechoslovak section at Brookwood Military cemetery.


Medals :

British :

1939 – 45 Star with Battle of Britain clasp

Czechoslovakia :

Válečný kříž 1939

Poland:

Krzyż Walecznych

Remembered :

Czech Republic :

Prague – Dejvice:

He is named on the Memorial for the fallen Czechoslovak airmen of 1939-1945, at Dejvice, Prague 6.

Prague – Klárov:

In November 2017, his name, along with the names of 2507 other Czechoslovak men and women who had served in the RAF during WW2, was unveiled at the Winged Lion Monument at Klárov, Prague.

He is remembered in the Remembrance book at St Vitus Cathedral, Prague.

He is remembered on the Memorial Plaque at the Vojenský Ústřední Archiv, Prague.

Great Britain :

Duxford:

He is commemorated on a memorial plaque, along with eight other 310 Sqn Czechoslovak airmen who were killed whilst stationed at RAF Duxford during 1940-1941.

Capel-le-Ferne – National Battle of Britain Memorial:

He is commemorated, along with the other 2938 Battle of Britain aircrew, on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall at the National Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent:


London :

He is commemorated on the London Battle of Britain Memorial:

London – St Clement Danes:

He is also remembered in the Remembrance book at St Clements Danes Church, London.

He is remembered on the Memorial Plaque at Bohemia House, formerly the Czech Club, London.

Posted in 310 Sqd, Battle of Britain, Biography, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Rudolf Borovec – 09.11.2022.


Posted in Ceremony, Exhibitions, Forthcoming Events, Other RAF Squadrons, Russia | Leave a comment